Let me teach you how to make naturally flavored (and naturally colored) strawberry buttercream frosting. The secret is to replace some confectioners’ sugar with freeze-dried strawberry powder. This strawberry buttercream is ultra creamy and smooth, with loads of real strawberry flavor.
Originally published in 2017. New photos & success tips added in 2023.
One reader, Kristen, says: “I made a variety of cupcakes for a wedding. I made this frosting and I have to say it was easy to make and hands down the best frosting i’ve ever had. I love all of your recipes. ★★★★★“
Let’s talk about how to make naturally flavored, naturally pink strawberry buttercream frosting.
Have you ever tried making frosting with fresh strawberries? I have, and the results were disastrous. I chopped up the strawberries, even blotted the moisture a little bit, pureed them, and then added it to a vanilla frosting. The buttercream instantly curdled as a result of the excess moisture—yuck! Same thing happened with strawberry jam, which also made the frosting too sweet.
Instead of relying on artificial strawberry flavor, I tried a trick I learned while writing my cookbook Sally’s Candy Addiction. Use freeze-dried strawberry powder!
I have a recipe for strawberry buttercream candies in that cookbook—they’re actually the pretty pink striped candies you see on the cover. The filling is creamy and smooth with lots of concentrated strawberry flavor, which comes from—you guessed it—ground freeze-dried strawberries. I decided to make actual strawberry frosting the same exact way. It’s really easy.
One reader, Laura, says: “This is a revelation! Incredible strawberry flavor and gorgeous color. Thank you for the recipe and step-by-step instructions. My new favorite secret ingredient for sweet treats! ★★★★★“
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting (6 Ingredients)
- Freeze-Dried Strawberries: You’ll grind these into a powder. Want to make a raspberry buttercream? Use freeze-dried raspberries instead.
- Unsalted Butter: Start with room temperature butter. Room temperature butter is actually cooler than you think. If the butter is too warm, the frosting will be greasy.
- Confectioners’ Sugar: Confectioners’ sugar is the bulk of this frosting, sweetening it and binding the ingredients together.
- Heavy Cream or Milk: Liquid thins out and adds creaminess to the frosting. You can use heavy cream, milk, or even half-and-half.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds incredible flavor.
- Salt: A pinch of salt offsets all the sweetness.
That’s it! No artificial flavoring or food coloring in this pretty pink strawberry frosting.
Grind the freeze-dried strawberries into powder using a food processor or blender:
Success Tip for Super-Smooth Strawberry Buttercream:
If you prefer a smoother strawberry buttercream, with none of the teeny-tiny seeds, you can sift out the seeds and larger pieces of the ground freeze-dried strawberries with a fine mesh sieve, and use just the super-fine strawberry dust. If I have an extra minute, I usually do this.
The rest of the recipe is similar to making regular vanilla buttercream or chocolate buttercream. You’ll need a handheld or stand mixer.
Where Can I Buy Freeze-Dried Strawberries?
I always find freeze-dried strawberries in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Target, and Amazon all carry them.
Do not use “dried strawberries,” which are chewy like raisins or dried apricots. They have a gummy texture and don’t grind into a powder. You need freeze-dried strawberries, which have all of the moisture removed. They’re the same strawberries we use in strawberry and cream cookies.
What Tastes Best With Strawberry Buttercream?
The flavor-combo possibilities are endless! This recipe makes enough for a dozen cupcakes, a 3-layer 6-inch cake, or a 9×13-inch quarter sheet cake. I would 1.5x the recipe for a 2-layer cake.
- Vanilla Cupcakes
- Pistachio Cupcakes
- Confetti Sprinkle Cupcakes
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Strawberry Cupcakes
- Peanut Butter Cupcakes (for a PB&J flavor combo!)
- Piñata Cupcakes
- Vanilla 6-Inch Cake
- Fruit Pizza
- Lemon Cupcakes (pictured below)
I also halve the recipe and use it to fill these chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes.
Strawberry Frosting Variations
If you love strawberry buttercream frosting, you’ll also love these delicious variations!
- Strawberry cream cheese frosting from this strawberry cake
- White chocolate strawberry buttercream from these white chocolate strawberry cupcakes
- Nutella-strawberry swirl buttercream from my Valentine’s Day cupcakes
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: about 3 cups
- Category: Frosting
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Freeze-dried strawberries are the secret to adding real flavor and natural color to strawberry buttercream frosting. Rich and creamy, this flavorful frosting pairs perfectly with an array of confections including chocolate cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, and/or a vanilla sheet cake.
- 1 cup (about 25g) freeze-dried strawberries
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream or whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- Using a food processor or blender, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. If it’s not grinding down fine enough, you can sift it with a fine mesh sieve to rid larger seeds/pieces. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, heavy cream/milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add 1–2 more Tablespoons of heavy cream/milk if needed to thin out, if desired. (I usually add at least 1 more.) Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
- Use immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed. (It stiffens in the refrigerator.)
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Food Processor | Fine Mesh Sieve | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer)
- Where to find freeze-dried strawberries: I always find freeze-dried strawberries in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, some dollar stores, Target, and Amazon carry them.
- Do not use fresh, frozen, or dried strawberries. Fresh and frozen strawberries add too much moisture. Dried strawberries are chewy like raisins or dried apricots. They have a gummy texture and don’t grind into a powder. You need freeze-dried strawberries, which have all of the moisture removed.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream produces an extra creamy frosting, but whole milk or half-and-half work too. Lower fat or nondairy milks work in a pinch, but the frosting won’t be as creamy.
- Quantity: This recipe is enough to frost 12–18 cupcakes, or a thin layer on a 9×13-inch quarter sheet cake. 1.5x the recipe for a 2-layer cake. (Doubling the recipe would be far too much.)
Keywords: strawberry buttercream frosting
Reader Comments & Reviews
Could you also make a cream cheese frosting with freeze dried strawberries? I am not a fan of the butter/conf. sugar combo.
Hi Barbera, Yes you can! You can see how we make a strawberry cream cheese frosting in this post for strawberry cake.
Ths is great! I dehydrate my strawberries from the garden until they are crisp and then grind them to powder and store in mason jars.
Freeze dried strawberries is genius!! This frosting is definitely a favorite of mine! Yum yum yum
Would it be much of a hassle to substitute strawberry for raspberry?
Hi Callum, simply swap the freeze dried strawberries with freeze dried raspberries. Enjoy!
Hi can i use this frosting on your chocolate cake (the recipe from the dark chocolate mousse cake)? That is my absolute favourite cake recipe, but also I wanted the cake to have a light pink colour and strawberry buttercream as my daughter’s bday is berry themed? Thanks!!
Any suggestions are welcome!
Hi Alisha, absolutely, this frosting is fantastic with chocolate cake!
Do you have a recipe for a strawberry filling? I would
Love to find a recipe for a strawberry filling to put in a cupcake!
Hi Amanda, these strawberry shortcake cupcakes have a wonderful strawberry filling you can use with other cupcake flavors.
My daughter requested a strawberry cake for her 18th birthday. This frosting had great strawberry flavor and and was not too sweet. Everyone loved it — especially the birthday girl!
I made a variety of cupcakes for a wedding. I made this frosting and I have to say it was easy to make and hands down the best frosting i’ve ever had. I love all of your recipes. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Thanks for a great recipe! Could I halve the ingredients? I only need enough to frost a small-ish cake, and last time I ended up with too much leftover buttercream!
This is my favorite frosting! If I made extra but didn’t need all of it in the end, could I freeze the rest and liven it up when needed again? If I wanted it 5-6 days later could I just refrigerate?
Hi Sarah, absolutely! The frosting will last up to a week in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer. See final step for more freezing directions and how best to thaw and use the frozen frosting.
This was amazing!!! Was so excited to try on my daughter birthday cake this year. This will be my go to for strawberry frosting!!
I just made this frosting for a batch of Sally’s Lemon Cupcakes that I’m bringing to a meeting with my colleagues tomorrow. I predict they will be a big hit – the lemon cupcakes are my go-to never-fail recipe, but the frosting tastes amazing! Like actual strawberries! It is the most delicious frosting I have ever tasted. It tastes like summer. The color is so pretty, too. It’s a light/bright pink that clearly didn’t come from chemicals in a tube. I’m calling them Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes. Hopefully my long, boring Death By Powerpoint meeting will be redeemed by them.
I used freeze-dried blueberries and got a beautiful purple icing that I used to pipe decorations on the strawberry buttercream. The blueberry seeds get stuck in the smaller tips though.
I also needed more than 25g of strawberry powder for the pink icing. I used 50g for a 1.5 batch of icing (which covered a 3-layer cake). It was still a bit pale, so I’ll try 2 bags (68g) next time.
I made this recipe using freeze dried raspberries and paired them with your super moist chocolate cupcake recipe. I was making them for a baby shower and the mom-to-be’s favorite flavors are chocolate and raspberry. I made a 1.5x recipe (which ended up being more than enough for 24 cupcakes) but didn’t change any proportions and everything came out so well! Only 3 were left and one person even said they were the best cupcakes they’ve ever had! Thanks for another great recipe!
is there a sustitute for the freeze dried strawberries? i cant find any where i am.
Hi Diana, Freeze dried strawberries are really the key ingredient in the recipe. We always find them in our regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Amazon, and Target all carry them.
Made this frosting to go with her strawberry cake tonight. I made 1.25x the icing and it was the perfect amount to a double layer square cake with a little left over. Consistency was perfect and the color was vibrant without additional food coloring. It was like an episode of wild Kingdom in the kitchen as my husband and kids waited for me to put the bowl down. They pounced and locked it clean! Hubby was dipping fresh strawberries in it and said this is the best frosting he has ever had! Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!
Love this cake! Second time I’m making it but couldn’t find freezes dried strawberries. Can you use dried strawberries instead?
Hi Sharon! Freeze dried strawberries are really the key ingredient in the recipe. We always find them in our regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Amazon, and Target all carry them.
What a brilliant technique! I paired this with the cake from your Triple Chocolate Cake recipe and sliced a few fresh strawberries on top. So decadent and amazing!
This frosting is incredibly delicious. It received rave reviews from the 18 year old birthday girl as well as from the other 10 people in attendance at the party. People wanted to know how I managed to achieve the fresh strawberry taste. I’ve been asked to please make this frosting again for the next birthday in 2 weeks. You and your guests will not be disappointed!
Hi Sally. First let me say that I love your website. I always check yours first before I check another of my favorites like America’s test kitchen. I usually end up on yours. My question is can I use the freeze dried fruit to make a glaze instead of a frosting. I’d like to pour a raspberry glaze over a chocolate Bundt cake. Any ideas? Thanks so much! Keep up the good work! Liz
Hi Liz, we can’t see why not! You could start with a recipe like our vanilla icing (or another glaze/icing recipe you love) and replace some of the powdered sugar with freeze dried raspberries. Let us know what you try!
BEST STRAWBERRY CAKE! I’ve tried lots of recipes, and tweaked lots of recipes with fresh strawberries, freeze dried strawberries, strawberry jam with the same disappointing results that Sally described! I’m so glad Sally persevered to find the key to the perfect strawberry cake! I’m thankful to have this lovely recipe! The flavor is delicate (I added 1 teaspoon of Beanilla strawberry extract), the color (with 1 drop of red food gel) is beautiful and the texture of the cake is perfect – soft and moist!
This frosting was amazing! Thank you so very much for posting this – I’m so grateful! I paired it with tour Strawberry Cake recipe and it was lovely! My only change was using salted butter which allowed me to add all the confectioner’s sugar without it being too sweet. Thank you again!
Super flavorful. I love how it uses real strawberries, I always get a ton of compliments when I make this frosting 🙂 One of my go-to’s!
This frosting is beautiful to look at and easy to work with. It tastes very strawberry-y. I added about a tablespoon of lemon juice, which freshened the flavor a great deal.
This frosting was perfection! We used it on my four year old’s bday cake after she requested the flavor. So strawberry-y. No problem with gumminess or texture. We used Target and Aldi freeze dried berries. My mother in law, who likes fruit but not sweets, hovered over the dregs in the bowl until I asked if she wanted a spatula. She pounced on it! 😀 Thank you!
This was an excellent recipe — super strawberry flavor and nice and firm. I was wondering if I could replace the strawberries with other freeze-dried fruits such as banana since I can’t find a good banana frosting that is firm enough for my purposes.
Hi Dede! We’ve had success using other freeze dried berries like blueberries raspberries, but haven’t tested banana. Let us know if you try it!
So I did try this recipe with freeze-dried bananas and it, too, was outstanding!! I had to use the whole package (about 70 g.) instead of the 25 g. in the original recipe to give it enough flavor. I’m so excited to use this frosting recipe for a lot of different freeze-dried fruits. Thank you so much!
I have tried this recipe with every single freeze dried fruit I can find (except apple) and it’s always been a hit. It’s not always 25g of the freeze dried fruit – I usually add that much to start, then taste and add more for flavor if needed. I have made amazing frosting with mango, peach, blueberry, strawberry this way!
Is this re Joe stable enough for a 8in 3layer cake?
Hi Bounlieng, this strawberry buttercream frosting is stable enough to frost a three layer cake.
Oh my goodness…this frosting is delicious. My grandsons don’t eat any artificial food coloring and I wanted pink frosting for my Valentine cupcakes. This was perfect and tasted so amazing! I think I used less than 1/2 cup of the strawberry powder. I just kept adding until I liked the color and taste.
First off- I LOVE all of your recipes!! So with this frosting- I have someone wanting a cake with strawberry frosting, but it’s for a boy’s 3rd birthday dinosaur party. Think I’d be able to turn it into blue or green frosting? Have you ever tried coloring strawberry frosting?
Hi Marcia, You can color the frosting, but because it’s already a bright pink your colors will turn out differently. I recommend mixing all of the frosting ingredients except the freeze dried strawberry powder, set a little aside in a separate bowl to be colored, and then add your strawberries to the rest. I hope this helps!
This looks so good! I’ve also had a hard time trying for strawberry buttercream using purée. Are there noticeable seeds in the finished product here?0
Hi Megan! Seeds have never been an issue with this buttercream, the freeze dried strawberry powder is quite fine – hope you love it!